October 7th, 2011 Headsman
Never get involved in a land war in Asia …
In honor of this impressive anniversary, we travel back in time and into the twilit frontier between fact and legend to another century’s intervention in that Graveyard of Empires — the Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878-1880. Dr. Watson was there; maybe even his literary compatriot Sherlock Holmes, too.
It’s too bad we don’t have the services of those excellent detectives in this matter. We can’t date this particular method, or attribute any specific victim to it, or even substantiate the actuality of the practice to our liking (though there are several books by British soldiers of that war which traffick in the report). Frankly, everything about it smells. But we think you’ll agree that execution by urophagia is a story that needs to be told.
The following is an account from a biography of English officer and novelist John Masters. We’ll label it Mature Content both for what it describes and the manner of its description, just to make you really want to savor every word.
War for the Pathans [Pashtuns] was an honourable, exciting and manly exercise, in which each succeeding generation needed to prove itself, but war was also ruthless; no mercy was shown and none was expected. Neither side aimed to take prisoners. The Pathans customarily mutilated and then beheaded any wounded or dead who fell into their hands. Women often carried out these operations. A well-known torture was called the Thousand Cuts, whereby flesh woulds were newly made and grass and thorns pushed into them so that they would hurt horribly. A prisoner might be pegged out on the ground and his jaw forcibly opened with a stick so that he could not swallow, then women would urinate in his mouth until he drowned. Frank Baines, who served on the North-West Frontier and later with Masters in Burma, put it more crudely:* ‘If you got captured, you were not only killed in a lively and imaginative manner, you were carved up and quartered and had your cock cut off and stuffed in your mouth for good measure.’
-John Clay in John Masters: A Regimented Life
* Baines penned this memorable line for his book Officer Boy
On this day..
- 1989: Francis Minah, Vice President of Sierra Leone - 2016
- 1546: The Fourteen of Meaux - 2015
- 1998: Jonathan Wayne Nobles - 2014
- 1536: Sebastiano de Montecuccoli, poisoner of the heir? - 2013
- 1898: Alfred C. Williams - 2012
- 1924: Frank Johnson, the first electrocuted in Florida - 2010
- 2007: Five women in Hoiryeong Public Stadium - 2009
- 1943: 98 American civilian contractors on Wake Island - 2008
Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Afghanistan,Borderline "Executions",Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Drowned,England,Execution,History,Known But To God,Mature Content,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Public Executions,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Torture,Urophagia,Wartime Executions